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Keeping Mum

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A surprising, laugh-out-loud and uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances. For fans of Nick Hornby, Mike Gayle and Jojo Moyes.

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James Gould-Bourn


RUSA 2021 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration winners
Chosen for Daily Mail‘s ‘Books of the Year 2020’
One of Kobo’s ‘Best Books of 2020’

Danny Malooley’s life is falling apart.

He’s a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He’s being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and, to make matters worse, he’s just lost his job on a building site. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.

He becomes a dancing panda.

After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he puts all sense of pride aside and spends his last fiver on a vomit-ridden costume… only to discover that the humiliation of his terrible rhythm is worth it. Not because he’s flush with cash (quite the opposite) but Will has finally spoken to him for the first time since his mother’s death. The problem is Will is unaware that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn’t want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking to him. But Danny can’t keep up the ruse forever.

Can Danny dance his way out of debt and finally reconnect with his son?


Keeping Mum is fast, fresh and very, very funny… Moving effortlessly from comedy to poignancy, it’s a story of joy, of connection and of the overwhelming resilience of the human spirit. Reading it made me want to dance. All the time. For ever. An absolute gem of a book.’
Katie Marsh, author of The Rest of Me

‘James Gould-Bourn’s novel is a comedy of sadness and dancing bears. That alone should convince you to pick up a copy, but I’ll add that it’s a delightful story about fatherhood and childhood. And dancing bears.’
Owen King, author of Double Feature

‘a touching and often hilarious journey in Gould-Bourn’s impressive debut novel. A truly joyful read.’
Press & Journal

Woman & Home

‘a joyous, uplifting story of a father and son finding their way back to each other.’
Daily Mail

‘hits that sweet spot between being properly funny and gut-punchingly emotional.’
Fabulous Mag, The Sun

‘An uplifting tale about a dad reconnecting with his son.’
Zoe West, Woman’s Weekly

‘Delightful, heartwarming…a grounded confection with a heart of gold that’s ideal for fans of Nick Hornby.’
Heather Booth, Booklist

‘Touching and funny.’
Bella, ‘New Must Reads’

‘An uplifting and moving tale of a father reconnecting with his son.’
Woman’s Own

‘Gould-Bourn’s writing is sprinkled with black humour and hilarious dialogue between an eclectic mix of characters… Keeping Mum is a rare breed; a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud book, with a serious story at it’s heart… I would highly recommend this joyful book to anyone and everyone.’
NB Magazine

‘A well-written, speedy read that focuses on the love between a dad and his son and how it can lead to friendship.’
Kirkus Review

‘I couldn’t resist this heart-warming story… If you want feel-good with a distinctive, funny, supporting cast, then this is the book for you.’
Daily Mail, ‘Staycation Sensations’

‘Funny, touching and surprising.’

Shelf Awareness

‘James Gould-Bourn bursts onto the US literary scene with a charming, deeply comforting story about a father and son entrenched in grief… Heartfelt themes and wit further elevate charming plot twists and a well-tuned cast of quirky, supporting characters who prove that the spirit of friendship can build bridges to greater understanding and brighter days. Gould-Bourn is a beautiful, perceptive writer who has crafted a moving, sensitive story that is also very funny. Bear Necessity is a perfect literary antidote to anxious, troubled times.
Kathleen Gerard, Reading Between the Lines